'L 'Allegro' by John Milton

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HENCE, loathed Melancholy,
............Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born
In Stygian cave forlorn
............'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights
Find out some uncouth cell,
............Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings,
And the night-raven sings;
............There, under ebon shades and low-browed rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,
............In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
But come, thou Goddess fair and free,
In heaven yclept Euphrosyne,
And by men heart-easing Mirth;
Whom lovely Venus, at a birth,
With two sister Graces more,
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore:
Or whether (as some sager sing)
The frolic wind that breathes the spring,
Zephyr, with Aurora pIaying,
As he met her once a-Maying,
There, on beds of violets blue,
And fresh-blown roses washed in dew,
Filled her with thee,. a daughter fair,
So buxom, blithe, and debonair.
Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
Jest, and youthful Jollity,
Quips and cranks and wanton wiles,
Nods and becks and wreathed smiles
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it, as you go,
On the light fantastic toe;
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty;
And, if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew,
To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free:
To hear the lark begin his flight,
And, singing, startle the dull night,
From his watch-tower in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
Then to come, in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good-morrow,
Through the sweet-briar or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine;
While the cock, with lively din,
Scatters the rear of darkness thin,
And to the stack, or the barn-door,
Stoutly struts his dames before:
Oft listening how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill:
Sometime walking, not unseen,
By hedgerow elms, on hillocks green,
Right against the eastern gate
Where the great Sun begins his state,
Robed in flames and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight;
While the ploughman, near at hand,
Whistles o'er the furrowed land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe,
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Whilst the landskip round it measures:
Russet lawns, and fallows grey,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray;
Mountains on whose barren breast
The labouring clouds do often rest;
Meadows trim, with daisies pied;
Shallow brooks, and rivers wide;
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosomed high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The cynosure of neighbouring eyes.
Hard by a cottage chimney smokes
From betwixt two aged oaks,
Where Corydon and Thyrsis met
Are at their savoury dinner set
Of herbs and other country messes,
Which the neat-handed Phyllis dresses;
And then in haste her bower she leaves,
With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;
Or, if the earlier season lead,
To the tanned haycock in the mead.
Sometimes, with secure delight,
The upland hamlets will invite,
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebecks sound
To many a youth and many a maid
Dancing in the chequered shade,
And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday,
Till the livelong daylight fail:
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
With stories told of many a feat,
How Faery Mab the junkets eat.
She was pinched and pulled, she said;
And he, by Friar's lantern led,
Tells how the drudging goblin sweat
To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn
That ten day-labourers could not end;
Then lies him down, the lubber fiend,
And, stretched out all the chimney's length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
And crop-full out of doors he flings,
Ere the first cock his matin rings.
Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
By whispering winds soon lulled asleep.
Towered cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit or arms, while both contend
To win her grace whom all commend.
There let Hymen oft appear
In saffron robe, with taper clear,
And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
With mask and antique pageantry;
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson's learned sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.
And ever, against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse,
Such as the meeting soul may pierce,
In notes with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness long drawn out
With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony;
That Orpheus' self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heaped Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto to have quite set free
His half-regained Eurydice.
These delights if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.

Editor 1 Interpretation

A Joyful Interpretation of Milton's L'Allegro

John Milton's L'Allegro is a poem that celebrates the joys of life, contrasting with its melancholic counterpart, Il Penseroso. It is a piece of literature that takes the reader on a journey through the happy, vivacious, and enthusiastic world of L'Allegro. This poem is full of symbolism, allegory, and metaphors that reflect the author's personal beliefs and values, as well as the cultural and historical context of his time.

But what makes this poem so special? What makes it so timeless? Is it the way Milton uses language to create powerful imagery and emotions? Or is it the message he is trying to convey through his words? Let us dive into the world of L'Allegro and explore the hidden meanings and interpretations behind this classic poem.

The Power of Language

One of the most striking features of L'Allegro is Milton's use of language. He employs a wide range of poetic techniques, such as alliteration, imagery, and personification, to create a vivid and lively atmosphere. This is especially evident in the opening lines of the poem, where Milton introduces the reader to the happy and carefree world of L'Allegro:

Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee Jest, and youthful Jollity, Quips, and Cranks, and wanton Wiles, Nods, and Becks, and wreathed Smiles, Such as hang on Hebe's cheek, And love to live in dimple sleek; Sport that wrinkled Care derides, And Laughter holding both his sides.

These lines are full of energy and excitement, evoking a sense of joy and playfulness. Milton uses alliteration to create rhythm and repetition, emphasizing the musical and rhythmic quality of his poetry. The personification of "Laughter holding both his sides" further enhances the image of happiness and merriment.

But Milton's language is not just about creating a pleasant atmosphere. He also uses it to convey deeper meanings and messages. For example, in the lines "Come, and trip it as you go, / On the light fantastic toe," Milton is not just describing a playful dance but also alluding to the idea of embracing the fleeting and transient nature of life. The "light fantastic toe" represents the ephemeral and fragile beauty of life, and by dancing on it, the speaker is celebrating the present moment and seizing the day.

Symbolism and Allegory

Another key aspect of L'Allegro is its use of symbolism and allegory. Milton employs various symbols and metaphors to convey his message of joy and happiness. For example, the "dewy-feathered sleep" represents the peaceful and restful state of mind that is necessary for true happiness. The "rosy-bosomed hours" symbolize the fleeting and ephemeral nature of time, and the need to make the most of every moment.

But perhaps the most powerful symbol in the poem is the contrast between L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. The two characters represent opposing emotions and attitudes, with L'Allegro embodying joy, and Il Penseroso embodying melancholy. In this way, the poem can be seen as an allegory for the human experience, with the speaker encouraging the reader to embrace the pleasures of life and reject its sorrows.

Context and Interpretation

To fully appreciate the depth and complexity of L'Allegro, it is important to consider the historical and cultural context in which it was written. Milton was a Puritan, and his religious beliefs are reflected in the poem's emphasis on morality and virtue. However, he was also a humanist, and his love of classical literature and culture is evident in the poem's references to Greek mythology and references to famous poets like Homer and Shakespeare.

One interpretation of the poem is that it represents Milton's attempt to reconcile his Puritan beliefs with his love of classical literature and culture. L'Allegro can be seen as a celebration of joy and pleasure, but also as a reminder of the importance of living a virtuous and moral life. The poem encourages the reader to find happiness in the simple pleasures of life, such as nature, music, and friendship, while also warning against the dangers of excess and indulgence.


In conclusion, L'Allegro is a masterpiece of English literature, full of powerful imagery, symbolism, and allegory. Its message of joy and happiness is as relevant now as it was when it was written over 400 years ago. By using language to create a vivid and lively atmosphere, and by employing symbols and metaphors to convey deeper meanings, Milton has created a poem that speaks to the human experience in a profound and timeless way. So let us embrace the joys of life, and dance on the "light fantastic toe" of our fleeting existence, just as Milton encourages us to do in L'Allegro.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry L'Allegro: A Joyful Ode to Life

John Milton's Poetry L'Allegro is a masterpiece of English literature that celebrates the beauty and joy of life. Written in the 17th century, this ode to happiness and merriment is a timeless work that continues to inspire readers and poets alike. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of Poetry L'Allegro, and discover why it remains a beloved classic of English poetry.

The poem begins with an invocation to the spirit of mirth, who is asked to come and bless the poet's song. The speaker then describes the various pleasures of life, such as dancing, singing, and feasting, and imagines a world where these joys are always present. The poem is divided into two parts, L'Allegro (the joyful person) and Il Penseroso (the thoughtful person), which represent two different moods or states of mind. In this analysis, we will focus on the first part, L'Allegro, which is a celebration of happiness and merriment.

The poem begins with a series of images that evoke the joy and beauty of nature. The speaker describes the morning sun, the birds singing, and the flowers blooming, all of which create a sense of wonder and delight. The language is rich and vivid, with phrases like "jocund day" and "rosy-fingered dawn" that capture the beauty of the natural world. The speaker then turns to the pleasures of human life, such as dancing, singing, and feasting, and imagines a world where these joys are always present. The language becomes more playful and whimsical, with phrases like "quips and cranks" and "nodding violets" that create a sense of fun and lightheartedness.

The poem then moves on to describe the various activities that bring joy and happiness to people's lives. The speaker imagines a world where people dance and sing all night, where the sound of music fills the air, and where feasting and drinking are common. The language becomes more energetic and lively, with phrases like "jolly hours" and "merry bells" that capture the festive atmosphere. The speaker also describes the pleasures of the countryside, such as hunting and fishing, and imagines a world where people can enjoy these activities without any worries or cares.

Throughout the poem, the speaker emphasizes the importance of joy and happiness in life. He suggests that these pleasures are not just frivolous distractions, but are essential to our well-being and happiness. The language is optimistic and hopeful, with phrases like "blessedness" and "blissful hours" that suggest a world of infinite possibilities. The speaker also suggests that joy and happiness are contagious, and that they can spread from person to person, creating a sense of community and togetherness.

The structure of the poem is also noteworthy. It is written in rhyming couplets, with each line consisting of ten syllables. This creates a sense of rhythm and harmony that reflects the joyful mood of the poem. The poem is also divided into stanzas, with each stanza focusing on a different aspect of joy and happiness. This creates a sense of progression and development, as the poem moves from the beauty of nature to the pleasures of human life.

The language of the poem is rich and varied, with a mix of formal and informal language. The speaker uses a range of poetic devices, such as alliteration, metaphor, and personification, to create a sense of depth and complexity. For example, in the line "And young and old come forth to play," the use of alliteration creates a sense of playfulness and energy. In the line "And every shepherd tells his tale," the use of personification creates a sense of the natural world coming to life.

In conclusion, Poetry L'Allegro is a joyful ode to life that celebrates the beauty and wonder of the natural world, as well as the pleasures of human life. The poem is structured in a way that creates a sense of progression and development, and the language is rich and varied, with a mix of formal and informal language. The poem suggests that joy and happiness are essential to our well-being and happiness, and that they can spread from person to person, creating a sense of community and togetherness. Poetry L'Allegro is a timeless work that continues to inspire readers and poets alike, and it remains a beloved classic of English poetry.

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